When do I take the SAT or ACT?


    • Juniors are generally encouraged to take the SAT or ACT with writing in late fall or early spring of junior year, then again in late spring of junior year (if they are trying to improve their scores), so that they can have one less worry in fall of senior year while they are applying to colleges and writing college essays.  
    • HOWEVER, with COVID, much change has happened.  Over 1800 colleges/universities have decided to go either test blind or test-optional moving forward with the Class of 2021.  
    • The UC system and over 800 colleges across the country are either test-blind or they are not accepting these tests at all.  That's good news for many.  Please check every college website that you are interested in to see if you even need to take exams.  If not, don't spend time or money taking exams that are not necessary.
    • If the exams are required, seniors are encouraged to take the SAT or ACT with writing in fall (unless their spring of junior year scores meet the criteria for eligibility for the colleges of their choice).  Finishing in spring of junior year is ideal!  Whew!  One less thing to do as a senior.  As of June 2021, the SAT will discontinue the writing portion of the exam. 
    • Some juniors who did not take the PSAT in fall of junior year elect to take the January or March SAT as a practice exam. During spring 2021 there is another PSAT option and Lisa Neumaier can provide you information on that.
    • Many juniors benefit from taking the SAT in December or March, then retaking it again in May or June, as opposed to retaking it in fall of senior year (based upon other academic/athletic commitments and college application deadlines). For the ACT, take it in February, with retake in either April or June.  Colleges will accept either score, so students may choose to focus on either SAT or ACT for a second sitting. Always take the SAT or ACT with Writing, as some schools (i.e., the entire UC system) will not look at your SAT scores if you have not taken the written exam as well.
    • As of January 2021, SAT Subject exams have been discontinued
    • If you have a clear preference for the ACT or SAT, focus on that exam and don't tax yourself by taking multiples sittings of both
    • All testing must be complete by December of senior year
    • Some private colleges require all testing to be complete prior to the fall of senior year if applying early action (i.e., Stanford).  Hence, students must check carefully for requirements at each college to which they are applying
    • I do NOT suggest taking any of these exams more than two times.  Generally speaking, scores typically increase the second time, but not again after that.  I am not an advocate of students spending multiple Saturdays re-taking SAT or ACT (but that's just me)
    • Students should do some college research so that they know the score they are seeking to obtain for entrance into their desired university
    • Decisions about testing schedules are often unique to each student.  Please contact me with questions
    • Sophomores often feel compelled to take the practice exams; however, I do not advocate this unless they are currently enrolled in Advanced Algebra.  Oftentimes, testing too early increases anxiety and results in less than ideal results, especially if the student has not covered the material in class that they are expected to know on the exam.  Families of sophomores should make decisions based on math placement and student comfort with testing.  There is plenty of time in junior year for practice and real exams.   I like ALL students to take both a practice ACT and SAT in fall of Junior Year.

    How do I register for the SAT or ACT?


    • For detailed information on exam dates and exams offered, please review the College Board site 
    • If your student wishes to take the ACT with writing (which is accepted by colleges in lieu of the SAT), please review the ACT site

    According to the College Board, the best preparation for the SAT - and for college - is for students to take challenging academic courses and to read and write widely.


    Prep sites for SAT or ACT

    Khan Academy: Truly Amazing videos working every single problem in the SAT Study Guide - FREE!

    College Board:  you can find scholarship and college info, get useful organization help, or use the SAT question of the day app.  This prep tool is fun, interesting and helpful. Answering the question will familiarize you with the format of questions, increase your vocabulary and give you a glimpse of the types of math formulas needed for the SAT.  This is a surefire way to access the types of vocabulary and questions on the real SAT.   



    Free Rice:  this site provides vocabulary assistance, specific subject questions, and supports a worthy cause.  And it is FUN!


    Using these sites will familiarize students with the format of questions, increase vocabulary and provide a glimpse of the types of math formulas required for the SAT/ACT.  This is a surefire way to access the types of vocabulary and questions on the real SAT/ACT. 


    Compass Education Group:  https://www.compassprep.com/  This site is the MOST COMPREHENSIVE & UP TO DATE site that I know of for SAT/ACT information. 


    Novel Approach to the SAT

    Tooth & Nail, a mystery novel filled with hundreds of SAT test words.  The words are in bold in the novel, with a glossary in back for easy reference.  Fun to read and more interesting than studying lists of vocab.  Enjoy!


    I hope this information is helpful.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions.  Thank you.



    Last updated by Sheila Souder on 04.26.2021